Joseph Gilbert – Upon The Theological System Of The Greeks
The Council of Gods, by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino,
painted between 1517 & 1518.
Fresco at Villa Farnesina, Rome, Italy.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is an excerpt from Joseph Gilbert’s 1841 ‘Essay on Spiritualism’, here in the Belisane 1987 edition. English translation from the original French by Via-HYGEIA. Joseph Gilbert was the last disciple of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin.
In this theology, the great principle of creation is even superior to being itself, because it is independent from the universality of things, even though it is its unspeakable source. It cannot be classified with any triads, nor with any order of beings. Plato calls it under the name of the Unique and the Good: the first Good. Through the first of these names, he indicates its transcendent simplicity; with the second he indicates its existence as object of desire by all beings, because all beings desire the good.
But, in this unique principle, first, universal, life and intellect exist virtually, in might, because all things exist, either in principle or in action. For example, light can be considered existing as a principle in its source, the sun, then in action, in the splendor it communicates to the other existing things.
The first manifestation of the universal cause will be the intelligible triad, formed by being, life and the intellect, which are the three highest things closest to the divinity.
Being predates life and life the intellect, because everything that lives first shares being, but the contrary isn’t always true. Also, life does always predate the intellect, because all the vital kinds aren’t intellectual. And the name of triad given to this group should not induce any essential distinction. Number here is irrelevant.
These three things proceeding from the primal cause are in an unbreakable union, because all the gods, considered in their respective unity, are all in all and are at the same time in union with the first god, alike the rays of light with light, or the radii of a circle with its center. Therefore, they are all established in their ineffable principle alike the roots of a tree in the soil. (See Proclus in his ‘Commentary upon Plato’s ‘Parmenides’ ‘).
The Orphic School (the initiators at Eleusis) clearly established that each of the gods is united with all the others, in a pantheistic manner, and with the supreme god because every one being a super-essential unity, their conjunction with one another, is a union of unities. Therefore, it follows that each of them is celebrated as the representative of the others. And according to the Orphic system this came to be and it was for the first time commented by Proclus in his ‘Theology of Plato’. In his exposition, each sphere is ruled by a main god, the Sun, for example or Apollo, but within the sphere, there is a solar Jupiter, a Neptune, a Vulcan, a Vesta, a Minerva, Mars, Ceres, Juno, Diana, Mercury, Venus-in brief, every deity. But they would receive the characteristic influence of the nature of the god ruling this sphere and, Proclus continues: “There is an earthly Ceres as a Vesta or an Isis; like there is a terrestrial Jupiter or Mercury, attached to the divinity of earth, exactly like the multitude of the celestial gods proceed from the celestial god. Every particular order proceeds from a more general order, the celestial from the super-celestial and the sublunar from the celestial. Everything the earth encompasses in an earthly manner, the heavens encompass it in a celestial manner.” All the inferior gods or those belonging to the world emanated by the twelves great gods that we just mentioned and that are divided into triads. The first one is of a demiurgic or creative nature and is composed of Jupiter, Neptune, Vulcan. The second one of Vesta, Minerva and Mars and it is a a defensive nature. The third one of Ceres, Juno and Diana, and is about the life-force. And finally, the fourth one of Mercury, Venus and Apollo, and is of an exhilarating and harmonic nature.
This correspondence between heaven and earth was a dogma in the Egyptian sanctuaries and was formally expressed by the pyramids ( ‘As above, so below; as below, so above, in order to accomplish the miracles of a unique thing’-The emerald Tablet).
We can see that the originators of the doctrine of the Orphic mysteries personified the properties and laws of nature, or rather, gave names to the being-principles of these properties. This doctrine is echoed in the modern community-school of Jacob Boehme, whose leader certainly ignored the secrets of the Orphic sanctuaries and probably their very existence. But, a principle, in the Boehmian community-school, is an original source, a primal essence, formed by an agent in a spherical circumference in which it is distinct of all the others.
And in order to leave no doubt about this idea, John Pordage says (in his 1681 ‘treatise of Eternal Nature’, published with the 1683 ‘Theologia Mystica): “A principle is an Original and Fountain-Essence: for it is not every Essence doth make a ‘Principle’, but such as one only, as the fruitful Mother of all the Essence-contained within its own circumference and Kingdom, and afford them being and sustenance from its own Bowels. In the second place, it is said to be formed by an Agent, because a principle of itself is passive, considered without the Active Spirit in the Center, which is the Mover of it. In the third place, you have the form and figure of a Principle, a Spherical Circumference, which is the common form of all Principles. In the last place, you have the end, why a Principle is formed into a Spherical enclosure, viz. that thereby it might be distinguished from all other Principles, Worlds and Centers: for all these are the same with me in this place, and therefore many times one of these is put for the other.”
Overall, everywhere men formulated their religious systems, they started from the same principles and it could not be otherwise. The only difference is in the diverse attributions they gave to the successive emanations. This is because the theocratic lawmakers of these people were dissimilar in their achievements and degree of instruction. Their initiations were the mirrors of the indigenous ideas of their people.